Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Tag Archives: form

Theory vs. Emotion in Film


When we say we like a movie, what are we really saying? Sure we can appreciate and admire ¬†films for their form or content and we can like them for the ideas they convey or for their beautiful cinematography, but what is it that leads us to say we like a certain film? It’s the feeling they evoke in us. There are film theorists who will go great lengths to describe what signs are present in films that cause us to like them, or the ways in which certain films connote or denote things that make them ‘good’ films. But I don’t think that all that theorizing gets to the heart of what makes us like films. I think the power of film really lies in how they make us feel, rather than certain qualities that might be inherent in the film. How often do we like films solely because of their form or content and cast aside the emotions they evoke in us? Perhaps there are truly genuine film connoisseurs who can look at a film only for the ways in which it excels in terms of its medium (and I’m sure there are), but I find it virtually impossible to separate my emotions from my appreciation for a film while I am watching it. If this makes me an average film spectator, then so be it. I would rather remain an emotional film spectator than take the emotion out of the film-vieweing experience and look at films purely from an intellectual¬†standpoint.

“…the form is the same but not the substance.”


I’m currently reading a book called The Glass Room¬†by Simon Mawer and there was this sentence that struck me, “…the form is the same but not the substance.” I often think of this notion in relation to shadows and the actual shape that they represent, and dreams and the life they represent. Shadows are the same form of the shape they represent, but not the same substance. This is clear. For example, the shadow of myself walking down the sidewalk may have the same form outlining my body, but it certainly isn’t the same substance – my shadow is not actually myself and does not contain anything that makes up the essence of myself. Yet both myself and my shadow share the same form. So in this way, it can be very disillusioning as to what is the real thing and what isn’t the real thing, even though they may both have the same form and look generally the same.

And when it comes to dreams, it seems as though our dreams are a reflection of the thoughts we have while we are awake and conscious of our thoughts. So they seem similar, yet they are slightly different because they are experienced in different realms of consciousness. It is thought that our dreams are things that we worry about or are on our minds subconsciously. Therefore, it seems as though our dreams are shadows of our thoughts while we are conscious and awake. But how can we know? What if our dream state is the real thing and our conscious ‘awakeness’ is actually the shadow? I’m sure psychologists that study sleep and dreams would argue otherwise, for the former; however, I often wonder if my dreams are somehow more real than my life when I am awake…

In any case, it is interesting to think about the difference between form and substance, shadows and the objects they represent, and dreams and the thoughts they represent.